Buddhism Buddhist Art and Architecture on the "Silk Road"
by
Michelle C. Wang
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0089

Introduction

The “Silk Roads,” a term first coined by the German geographer Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen in 1877, refers to the east–west overland trading routes crossing Central Asia that for centuries served as the conduit for the transmission not only of consumer goods such as silk textiles, but also of religions, including Buddhism. One terminus of the Silk Road lay in the Mediterranean, crossing through Syria, Mesopotamia, Iran, and Turkmenistan to Kashgar in present-day Xinjiang Autonomous Uighur Region of China. The Silk Road then split into northern and southern routes, skirting the forbidding Taklamakan Desert and reuniting at the Chinese military garrison of Dunhuang in Gansu Province, from which point the route continued further inland in China to the capital cities of Chang’an (present-day Xi’an) and Luoyang. Archaeological discoveries document the presence of trade from the Neolithic period. However, the earliest Chinese monk pilgrim to travel overland from China to India was Faxian, who departed in 399 CE on a fifteen-year journey. His travels paved the way for countless numbers of monks, among them Xuanzang, who embarked in 629 CE on a seventeen-year journey. The Buddhist sites situated in present-day Afghanistan, Xinjiang Autonomous Uighur Region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Gansu Province continued the traditions of rock-cut architecture first introduced in India. In addition to housing monastic communities, the rock-cut sites of the Silk Road also functioned as pilgrimage sites that were the recipients of patronage from local elites, traders, and Chinese rulers. The sites that have received the most attention, particularly from Western scholars, have been the Mogao cave shrines in Dunhuang, Gansu Province, and the Kizil cave shrines in Kucha, Xinjiang Autonomous Uighur Region. In addition to the mural paintings and sculptures of these rock-cut sites, Mogao Cave 17, commonly known as the “library cave,” contained tens of thousands of paintings and manuscripts that were sealed c. 1000 CE and that were dispersed in the early 20th century into library and museum collections around the world.

General Overviews

The works in this section, several of them exhibition catalogues, may be distinguished by their geographical focus, types of objects, and methodological orientation. The earliest examples of Buddhist art are catalogued exhaustively in Rhie 1999–2010, which analyzes early Buddhist art in China in conjunction with objects and sites situated along the northern and southern Silk Roads. Rhie’s erudite scholarship is an unsurpassed guide to the development of historical styles. No serious scholar of Buddhism in China and Central Asia can ignore this indispensable work. The first two volumes cover the period from the 3rd century BCE to the 5th century CE. The third volume focuses on cave temple sites in Gansu within the context of Buddhist textual sources. Whitfield 1995 and Fan 2010 provide introductions to the Mogao cave shrines in Gansu Province and their historical development.Murray 1998 discusses Dunhuang mural paintings within the broader context of narrative painting in Chinese art. Rong 1999–2000 addresses the sealing of Mogao Cave 17, the so-called library cave that was discovered in 1900. Hopkirk 1980 provides an accessible narrative of the explorers who traveled the Silk Road and of the treasures that they took away with them. Following on this, Balachandran 2007 focuses on mural painting fragments, placing them within the context of archaeological preservation as a tool for museum collection building in the early 20th century. Portable objects from the Silk Road are highlighted in Whitfield and Sims-Williams 2004, along with excellent essays highlighting specific aspects of Silk Road history and religions. Finally, Juliano and Lerner 2001 contextualizes Buddhist sites in Gansu and Ningxia with sculptures, coins, painting fragments, and other objects from the same regions from museum collections in China.

  • Balachandran, Sanchita. “Object Lessons: The Politics of Preservation and Museum Building in Western China in the Early Twentieth Century.” International Journal of Cultural Property 14 (2007): 1–32.

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    This paper examines the use of preservation as a justification for the removal of pieces of immovable archaeological sites in the early 20th century, focusing on a collection of twelve wall painting fragments from Dunhuang which were removed by Langdon Warner in 1924 for the Fogg Art Museum.

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    • Jinshi Fan. Susan Whitfield, ed. and trans. The Caves of Dunhuang. Hong Kong: Dunhuang Academy in Collaboration with London Editions, 2010.

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      Authored by the Director of the Dunhuang Academy, this lavishly illustrated volume thoroughly surveys the history, geography, religion, and art and architecture of the Dunhuang Caves in successive chapters. Also covered are portable objects and conservation of the site.

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      • Hopkirk, Peter. Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia. London: John Murray, 1980.

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        This work provides a historical overview of the explorers who traversed the Silk Road: Sven Hedin, Aurel Stein, Albert von Le Coq, Paul Pelliot, Kozui Otani, and Langdon Warner. Of particular interest is the account of the discovery and removal of paintings and manuscripts from Mogao Cave 17.

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        • Juliano, Annette L., and Judith A. Lerner, eds. Monks and Merchants: Silk Road Treasures from Northwest China, Gansu and Ningxia, 4th–7th Century. New York: Harry N. Abrams with the Asia Society, 2001.

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          The exhibition catalogue from the Asia Society focuses on objects in Chinese museum collections from Gansu and Ningxia. Essays emphasize the cultural interactions and influences facilitated by the Silk Road and by the movements of nomads, Buddhist monks, and Sogdian merchants.

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          • Murray, Julia K. “What Is ‘Chinese Narrative Illustration’?” Art Bulletin 80.4 (1998): 602–615.

            DOI: 10.2307/3051315Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            This short essay contextualizes Dunhuang cave murals in relation to the history of Chinese painting and contemporary discussion of narrativity and theories of pictorial art.

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            • Rhie, Marylin Martin. Early Buddhist Art of China and Central Asia. 3 vols. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1999–2010.

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              Vol. 1 of Rhie’s study begins with the Han to Western Jin Dynasty in China and the southern Silk Road from the 1st to 5th centuries CE. Vol. 2 covers Buddhist art in China during the Eastern Jin and Sixteen Kingdoms periods and the northern Silk Road from the 3rd to 5th centuries CE. Vol. 3 covers important new iconographic and stylistic developments during the Western Qin (385–431) in eastern Gansu.

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              • Rong Xinjiang. “The Nature of the Dunhuang Library Cave and the Reasons for Its Sealing.” Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie 11 (1999–2000): 247–275.

                DOI: 10.3406/asie.1999.1155Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                This essay argues that Mogao Cave 17 was a storehouse for the library holdings of the Three Realms Monastery in Dunhuang. It also posits that the cave was sealed before 1006 in order to prevent the destruction of materials after the fall of Khotan to the Islamic Karakhanids.

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                • Whitfield, Roderick. Dunhuang: Caves of the Singing Sands: Buddhist Art from the Silk Road. 2 vols. London: Textile & Art Publications, 1995.

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                  Vol. 1 contains color plates of mural paintings from the Mogao caves, arranged in chronological order and according to thematic motifs. Vol. 2 contains an introduction to the site, essays on caves of each historical period, a chronology of Dunhuang, and captions to the plates.

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                  • Whitfield, Susan, ed., with Ursula Sims-Williams. The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War, and Faith. Chicago: Serindia, 2004.

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                    Published in conjunction with a special exhibition at the British Library in 2004, the essays discuss the history, economy, material culture, and religions of the Silk Road. The objects on display originated principally from the British Museum, British Library, and Victoria and Albert Museum.

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                    Reference Works

                    The works in this section are valuable reference guides to the paintings, sculptures, and inscriptions of cave shrines, as well as to the Dunhuang manuscripts—all primary sources for the study of Silk Road Buddhist art and architecture. Dunhuang Wenwu Yanjiusuo 1986 and Shi 1996 pertain solely to the Mogao cave shrines. Dunhuang Wenwu Yanjiusuo 1982 pertains to the Mogao cave temples and other cave shrine sites in Gansu Province. Dunhuang Yanjiuyuan 2000 and Ji 1998 relate more broadly to Dunhuang manuscripts and to Dunhuang studies, respectively. Wang and Dou 2006 discusses the contents and inscriptions of the Binglingsi cave shrines in Gansu, and Xinjiang Qiuci Shiku Yanjiusuo 2000 does the same for the Kizil cave shrines. Sullivan 1969 covers the Maijishan cave shrines, with black-and-white plates and some plans.

                    • Dunhuang Wenwu Yanjiusuo (敦煌文物研究所), ed. Dunhuang Mogaoku gongyangren tiji (敦煌莫高供養人題記). Beijing: Wenwu Chubanshe, 1986.

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                      This work provides transcriptions of donor inscriptions from the Mogao cave temples, with the locations of the inscriptions indicated. Essays discuss the donor images and patronage, as well as chronology of cave construction. The index is organized according to donors’ names.

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                      • Dunhuang Wenwu Yanjiusuo (敦煌文物研究所), ed. Dunhuang shiku neirong zonglu (敦煌石窟內容總錄.) Beijing: Wenwu Chubanshe, 1982.

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                        This work provides the dates and descriptions of the structure and paintings and sculptures of the Mogao, Yulin, and other cave temples sites in Gansu Province. The index is searchable according to iconographic motif, and essays discuss the historical chronology and development of the cave temples.

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                        • Dunhuang Yanjiuyuan (敦煌研究院), ed. Dunhuang yishu zongmu suoyin xinbian (敦煌遺書總目索引新編). Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju, 2000.

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                          This work indexes Dunhuang manuscripts in the Stein and Pelliot collections and the National Library of China. First, each manuscript is listed in numerical order with the titles and a brief description of the contents. The index that follows is organized according to individual titles and cross-references manuscripts in all three collections.

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                          • Ji Xianlin (季羨林), ed. Dunhuangxue dacidian (敦煌學大辭典). Shanghai: Shanghai Cishu Chubanshe, 1998.

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                            An encyclopedia of “Dunhuang studies,” this work is a useful source for names and terms, particularly those referenced in the Dunhuang manuscripts. Representative iconographic motifs located in specific cave temples can also be found in this source.

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                            • Shi Zhangru (石璋如). Mogao ku xing (莫高窟形). 3 vols. Taipei: Zhongyang Yanjiu Yuan Lishi Yuyan Yanjiusuo, 1996.

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                              Vol. 1 provides section and plan measurements of the Mogao cave shrines, with figures in vol. 2 and black-and-white illustrations of mural paintings in vol. 3.

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                              • Sullivan, Michael. The Cave Temples of Maichishan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.

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                                The work provides a historical chronology of the Maijishan cave shrines in Gansu, with black-and-white plates of the caves and mural paintings accompanied by their descriptions and in some cases, their dimensions. Comparisons are made to the art of other cave shrine sites.

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                                • Wang Hengtong (王亨通), and Du Doucheng (杜斗城). Binglingsi shiku neirongzonglu (炳靈寺石窟内容總錄). Lanzhou: Lanzhou Daxue Chubanshe, 2006.

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                                  This work provides the date, dimensions, and a description of the structure and paintings, sculptures, and inscriptions of the Binglingsi cave shrines in Gansu Province. Essays discuss aspects of the inscriptions, influence of Tibetan Buddhism, and mural paintings.

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                                  • Xinjiang Qiuci Shiku Yanjiusuo (新疆龜茲石窟研究所), ed. Kezi’er shiku neirong zonglu (克孜尔石窟內容總錄). Urumqi: Xinjiang Meishu Sheying Chubanshe, 2000.

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                                    This work provides the measurements and a description of the structure and paintings and sculptures of the Kizil cave shrines in Xinjiang Autonomous Uighur Region. The index is searchable according to iconographic motif, and the essay discusses the chronology and iconographical motifs of the cave temples.

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                                    Image Collections and Silk Road Resources

                                    Because of the far-flung nature of Silk Road materials and sites, as well as the need to preserve delicate manuscripts and portable paintings, Internet sources are particularly valuable resources for scholarship, reference, and digital images. Foremost among these is the International Dunhuang Project, whose site is a portal for information and teaching resources as well as digital images. The Digital Silk Road, based in Japan, is yet another useful portal for information. The Silk Road Project: Reuniting Turfan’s Scattered Treasures is focused specifically on resources relating to Turfan studies. The Mellon International Dunhuang Archive, ARTstor is an excellent source for digital images of mural paintings. The Silk Road Seattle site provides useful resources for teaching, and the Silk Road Foundation sites provide general resources about the Silk Road as well as access to the Silk Road e-journal and information about on-site study trips. In a similar manner, the Yale Silk Road Database provides images from a wide variety of Silk Road sites.

                                    Illustrated Catalogues

                                    As photography is not permitted at most cave shrine sites, particularly those containing mural paintings, illustrated catalogues are a valuable resource for research and study. Illustrated catalogues also facilitate close study of portable paintings. The Zhongguo Shiku series devotes one or more volumes to a single cave shrine site. The Dunhuang Shiku Yishu series devotes a single volume to an individual Mogao cave or a collection of a few Mogao caves. Based on early photographs taken at the Mogao cave temples in 1948, Gray 1959 analyzes the Mogao mural paintings in the context of the stylistic influences from sites in Xinjiang. Whitfield 1982 and Giès 1995–1996 catalogue the portable paintings in the British Museum and Musée Guimet, respectively. A similar catalogue was planned for the Stein Collection in the National Museum of India but never brought to fruition. Matsumoto 1937 is a valuable resource, which considers mural paintings at Dunhuang along with polychrome and monochrome portable paintings from British and French collections. This two-volume set is organized according to iconographic motifs, and the iconographic identifications of more complex paintings are still useful today. The Dunhuang Shiku Yishu series is organized according to iconographic or other motifs, with color-plate details of mural paintings and informative essays.

                                    • Dunhuang Shiku Quanji (敦煌石窟全集). Hong Kong: Commercial Press.

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                                      The volumes in this series focus on specific iconographical or visual motifs primarily in the Mogao, as well as Yulin caves.

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                                      • Dunhuang Shiku Yishu (敦煌石窟藝術). Nanjing: Jiangsu Meishu Chubanshe.

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                                        The titles in this series focus on an individual Mogao cave or a collection of a few Mogao caves in one volume, with introductory essays, color plates, and captions.

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                                        • Giès, Jacques. Les Arts de l’Asie centrale: La Collection Paul Pelliot de Musée National des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet. 2 vols. Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1995–1996.

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                                          Similar to the Arts of Central Asia catalogue for the British Museum, this work catalogues the portable paintings in the Musée Guimet.

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                                          • Gray, Basil. Buddhist Cave Paintings at Tun-huang. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959.

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                                            In addition to early black-and-white photographs of the Mogao cave shrines, this work discusses the history of Dunhuang, the influence of Indian and Central Asian painting styles on the Mogao mural paintings, and iconographic motifs, as well as the architecture of the caves and painting techniques and materials.

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                                            • Matsumoto Eiichi (松本栄一). Tonkōga no kenkyū (敦煌畫の研究). 2 vols. Tokyo: Tōhō Bunka Gakuin, 1937.

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                                              The set is divided into two volumes, with text in volume 1 and black-and-white plates in volume 2. The content is organized according to iconographic motifs and treats simultaneously Dunhuang mural and portable paintings in British and French collections. The most notable aspect of this two-volume set is the equal treatment of portable paintings with mural paintings, and of monochrome diagrams with polychrome paintings.

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                                              • Whitfield, Roderick. Art of Central Asia: The Stein Collection in the British Museum. 3 vols. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1982.

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                                                Volumes 1 and 2 contain color and monochrome plates of portable paintings, with explanatory text for the color plates. Volume 3 focuses on textiles. The book was photographed on site by Kodansha, the color transparencies developed in Tokyo, with Japanese and English editions released.

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                                                • Zhongguo Shiku (中國石窟). Beijing: Wenwu Chubanshe.

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                                                  This series covers the following Silk Road cave shrine sites: Maijishan, Yulin, Kumtura, Kizil, Binglingsi, and Mogao (in addition to Longmen, Yungang, and Gongxian). Color plates are accompanied by captions, and the organization is according to chronology.

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                                                  Exhibition Catalogues

                                                  In addition to Juliano and Lerner 2001 and Whitfield and Sims-Williams 2004 (both cited in General Overviews), the following exhibition catalogues provide different perspectives on Silk Road Buddhist art. Whitfield and Ferrer 1990 focuses on portable paintings and objects from the Stein Collection. Härtel and Yaldiz 1982 focuses on mural painting fragments originally from the northern Silk Road in Xinjiang. Giès and Cohen 1995 brings together objects from Gansu and Xinjiang. Watt, et al. 2004 incorporates objects from Gansu and Xinjiang, with a broader discussion of Buddhist sites elsewhere in China.

                                                  • Giès, Jacques, and Monique Cohen, eds. Sérinde, Terre du Bouddha: Dix siècles d’art sur la Route de la Soie. Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1995.

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                                                    This 1996 exhibition brought together paintings, manuscripts, sculptures, and mural painting fragments from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Musée Guimet, and other institutions outside France. The catalogue consists primarily of color plates and explanatory text.

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                                                    • Härtel, Herbert, and Marianne Yaldiz. Along the Ancient Silk Routes: Central Asian Art from the West Berlin State Museums. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982.

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                                                      This work introduces sculptures and fragments of mural paintings from the northern Silk Road now in the collections of the West Berlin state museums that were displayed at the Metropolitan Museum in 1982. In addition to Buddhist objects, the exhibit also featured examples of Manichean and Nestorian Christian art.

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                                                      • Watt, James C. Y., et al. China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200–750 AD. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004.

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                                                        Although not focusing specifically on the Silk Road, essays in this exhibition catalogue discuss Central Asian metalwork, glass and textiles of the Silk Road, and objects from Gansu and Xinjiang.

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                                                        • Whitfield, Roderick, and Anne Farrer. Caves of the Thousand Buddhas: Chinese Art from the Silk Route. London: British Museum, 1990.

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                                                          This volume catalogues paintings, prints, textiles and sculptures from the Stein Collection in the British Museum on the occasion of the 1990 exhibition “Caves of the Thousand Buddhas.” Color plates and black-and-white figures are accompanied by individual catalogue entries, with a brief essay introducing each section.

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                                                          Expedition Reports

                                                          Expedition reports by Silk Road explorers of the early 20th century provide a historical sense not only of the Western discovery of the Silk Road, but also of the physical conditions of the sites when encountered by the explorers, and of the types of objects they discovered and brought back to European collections. Silk Road exploration was dictated as much by political concerns as by the interest in Gandharan, or “Greco-Buddhist,” sculpture. The reports pertaining to cave shrines are especially useful for the reconstruction of caves in which mural painting fragments were removed, especially in the case of Kizil, Kumtura, and Bezeklik, or in cases where mural paintings suffered damage, such as in the Mogao caves. Grünwedel 1912, Stein 1907, Stein 1921, and Stein 1928 address sites in Xinjiang. Stein 1921, Stein 1928, and Pelliot 1914–1924 address sites in Gansu.

                                                          • Grünwedel, Albert. Altbuddhistische Kultstätten in Chinesisch Turkistan. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1912.

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                                                            The report of the third German expedition of 30 December 1905 to 5 April 1907 to Kucha, Kumtura, Ming Oi, Kizil, Turfan, Bezeklik, Toyuk, Karakoja, Hami, and Kumtura. Text is accompanied by photographs, site plans, diagrams, and line drawings; the focus is on rock-cut architecture and mural paintings.

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                                                            • Pelliot, Paul. Les Grottes de Touen-houang: Peintures et sculptures bouddhiques des epoques des Wei, des T’ang et des Song. 6 vols. Paris: Librairie Paul Geuthner, 1914–1924.

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                                                              This work contains photographs of the mural paintings and sculptures of the Mogao caves taken in 1908 during the 1906–1908 expedition led by Paul Pelliot, the first complete photographic record of the site. The photographs are a valuable record of paintings that in later years suffered damage or destruction.

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                                                              • Stein, Aurel. Ancient Khotan: Detailed Report of Archaeological Explorations in Chinese Turkestan. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1907.

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                                                                This is a report of Stein’s first expedition of 1900–1901 to the southern part of Chinese Turkestan: Kashgar, Khotan, Dandan-Uiliq, Niya, Endere. Weaving together travel narrative with history, geography, ethnography, local folklore, and references to Xuanzang and Marco Polo, the focus is on freestanding architecture, manuscripts, coins, textiles, fragments of sculpture, and mural painting.

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                                                                • Stein, Aurel. Innermost Asia: Detailed Report of Explorations in Central Asia, Kan-su and Eastern Iran. 4 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1928.

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                                                                  A report of Stein’s third expedition, 1913–1916, during which he traveled as far as Kharakhoto, returning via Turfan to Kashgar and to Samarkand.

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                                                                  • Stein, Aurel. Serindia: Detailed Report of Explorations in Central Asia and Westernmost China. 5 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1921.

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                                                                    A report of Stein’s second Central Asian expedition, carried out during 1906–1908 and covering Swat, Oxus, Khotan, Niya, Endere, Shanshan, Loulan, Miran, Dunhuang, Jade Gate, Hami, Turfan, and Kucha. A more ambitious publication than Ancient Khotan, Volume 3 includes site plans and Volume 5 contains maps.

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                                                                    Transformation Texts (Bianwen) and Transformation Tableaux (Bianxiang)

                                                                    Among the most characteristic features of Buddhist mural paintings at Silk Road sites, particularly in the Mogao cave temples, are narrative paintings known as “transformation tableaux” (bianxiang). The works in this section attempt to clarify the relationship between Dunhuang literature and Dunhuang paintings and to analyze the meaning of “transformation” (bian) as well as the functions of transformation tableaux. Transformation texts (bianwen) are narratives written in semi-colloquial Chinese that address both Buddhist and secular themes, and are the earliest examples of prosimetric (alternating prose-verse) literature in China. Mair 1983 is the first major contribution in a series of works by the same author which sought to elucidate transformation texts and the relationship between text and image. Pai and Mair 1984 argues for the connection between transformation texts and portable and mural paintings. Both Mair 1988 and Mair 1989 advance the links between oral performance and accompanying images as well as the Indian origins of picture-storytelling. Wu 1992 takes a radically different approach. Responding to Pai and Mair, Wu argues that text and image mutually reinforced one another and that transformation tableaux based on the “Subjugation of Demons” story predated its appearance in transformation texts. This demonstrates the influence of art on literature rather than the dependence of art on literature. Finally, Schmid 2006 places transformation texts within the context of viewer participation in that the paintings provided a crucial focus for viewers’ immersion.

                                                                    • Mair, Victor H. Painting and Performance: Chinese Picture Recitation and Its Indian Genesis. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1988.

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                                                                      The author elaborates on the connection between oral performances of the type associated with bianwen and pictures, tracing the origins of picture-storytelling in India and related examples in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and around the world. Historical evidence is supplemented by modern ethnographic evidence, including baojuan (precious scrolls) performances in contemporary Gansu.

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                                                                      • Mair, Victor H. T’ang Transformation Texts: A Study of the Buddhist Contribution to the Rise of Vernacular Fiction and Drama in China. Cambridge, MA: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1989.

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                                                                        The author continues his examination of the meaning of the term bianwen, its distinguishing literary characteristics, and the role of Indian influence on the practice of picture-storytelling. Of particular note are the author’s arguments regarding oral performances and visual evidence for storytelling and lecturing from the Dunhuang mural paintings.

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                                                                        • Mair, Victor H. Tun-huang Popular Narratives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

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                                                                          In this work, the author analyzes four representative texts from among the Dunhuang manuscripts: the Śāriputra, Maudgalyāyana (Mulian), and Zhang Yichao transformation texts and the Dunhuang story about Wu Zixu, and relevant paintings. He investigates the meanings of bian and bianwen and the Indian influences on popular narratives in China.

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                                                                          • Pai Hua-wen. “What is Pien-wen 變文?” Translated by Victor H. Mair. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 44.2 (1984): 493–514.

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                                                                            This translation of an article by Pai Hua-wen, which first appeared in 1982, advances the theory that bianwen and bianxiang were firmly linked to one another. Bianwen were performed at the same time that accompanying picture scrolls were displayed and could also be performed in conjunction with mural paintings.

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                                                                            • Schmid, Neil. “The Material Culture of Exegesis and Liturgy and a Change in the Artistic Representations in Dunhuang Caves, ca. 700–1000.” Asia Major, 3d ser., 19.1–2 (2006): 171–210.

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                                                                              The author examines changes in the structure and content of the Mogao caves from the mid-8th century to the 1000s, arguing that the interiors became more vernacular and therefore more immediate to their audiences, and at the same time, placed bianxiang within the context of viewer participation.

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                                                                              • Wu Hung. “What is Bianxiang 變相? —On the Relationship between Dunhuang Art and Dunhuang Literature.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 52.1 (1992): 111–192.

                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/2719330Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Wu exhaustively analyzed Mogao mural paintings in order to challenge the arguments that bianwen and bianxiang were inextricably linked together, arguing that bianxiang murals were not aids to oral performance but rather had their own pictorial logic distinct from the logic of written tales or oral performance.

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                                                                                Visualization Sūtra

                                                                                The Visualization Sūtra is now believed to have been composed by monks in the Turfan region during the 5th–6th centuries, although different Chinese versions and related texts probably circulated at the same time. The pretext of the Visualization Sūtra is a set of instructions imparted by Śākyamuni Buddha to Queen Vaidehī of the kingdom of Magadha in India, whose husband has been unjustly imprisoned by their son, of a sequence of visualizations culminating in a vision of Amitābha Buddha in the Western Pure Land. A group of mural paintings in Turfan and Dunhuang relating to the sutra are the focus of both works in this section. A point of convergence is in the simultaneous treatment in both articles of differences between Toyoq (Toyok) and Mogao paintings relating to the Visualization Sūtra. Yamabe 2002 argues that the Toyoq paintings were more prescriptive and that the Mogao paintings were more narrative because of the presence in the latter of Queen Vaidehī; Ning 2007, on the other hand, argues that the presence of the queen in place of the meditating monks seen in the Toyoq painting implied the broadening of visualization practice to laypeople, including women. Ten Grotenhuis 1999 demonstrates the reach of the Silk Road as manifested in the iconography of Japanese paintings, which can be traced to the mural paintings of the Mogao cave shrines.

                                                                                • Ning, Qiang. “Visualization Practice and the Function of the Western Paradise Images in Turfan and Dunhuang in the Sixth to Seventh Centuries.” Journal of Inner Asian Art and Archaeology 2 (2007): 133–142.

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                                                                                  This work compares a 6th-century mural painting in Toyoq Cave 20 in Xinjiang to 7th-century mural paintings in Mogao Cave 431, concluding that both were related to the Visualization Sūtra, evidence supporting religious exchanges between Turfan and Dunhuang.

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                                                                                  • ten Grotenhuis, Elizabeth. Japanese Mandalas: Representations of Sacred Geography. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999.

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                                                                                    This groundbreaking study analyzes the complex mixture of Indian Buddhist elements, pre-Buddhist Chinese elements, Chinese Buddhist elements, and indigenous Japanese elements that have been appropriated and transformed in various Japanese mandala traditions. Her study demonstrates the influence of Silk Road on Japanese culture.

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                                                                                    • Yamabe, Nobuyoshi. “Practice of Visualization and the Visualization Sūtra: An Examination of Mural Paintings at Toyok, Turfan.” Pacific World, 3d ser., 4 (2002): 123–152.

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                                                                                      Drawing from the author’s 1999 Ph.D. dissertation, this work expands the discussion from the Visualization Sūtra to related meditation texts, linking specific passages to images in Toyoq Caves 20 and 42. The author suggests that both text and images were part of a larger oral tradition, thus explaining deviances in the paintings from textual sources.

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                                                                                      Lotus Sūtra

                                                                                      From its first translation into Chinese in the 3rd century CE, the Lotus Sūtra was the most widely circulated Buddhist sutra in East Asia, and the numerous manuscript copies of the sutra from Mogao Cave 17 attest to its popularity in the region. Among the central themes of the Lotus Sūtra is the Mahāyāna tenet of universal Buddhahood. Another theme is the principle of expedient means, which may be illustrated by the thirty-three manifestations of the bodhisattva Guanyin, who appears to believers in the manner most suitable to their immediate needs. Last, although the sutra was preached by Śākyamuni Buddha on Vulture Peak, the universe described in the sutra is infinitely complex in terms of time and space. All of the above concepts served as rich subject matter for mural paintings. Davidson 1954 traces the historical trajectory of the Lotus Sūtra and its art in China from the 5th to 10th centuries. Wang 2005 takes a more synthetic approach, as paintings of the Lotus Sūtra from the Mogao caves are examined in terms of their interrelationship with other examples of Buddhist art in China.

                                                                                      • Davidson, Leroy J. The Lotus Sutra in Chinese Art: A Study in Buddhist Art to the Year 1000. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1954.

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                                                                                        Davidson discusses mural and portable paintings of the Lotus Sūtra and related texts from the Mogao cave shrines as the only extant examples of early Chinese Buddhist paintings.

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                                                                                        • Wang, Eugene Y. Shaping the Lotus Sutra: Buddhist Visual Culture in Medieval China. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005.

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                                                                                          Wang takes paintings of the Lotus Sūtra from the Mogao caves as a starting point for examining the strategies of mirroring, mapping, and spatial programming, in the process linking the visual and spatial phenomena observed in Lotus Sūtra paintings to other examples of Buddhist art in medieval China.

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                                                                                          Parinirvāṇa

                                                                                          The parinirvāṇa refers to the complete extinction of Śākyamuni in a sala grove located outside of Kuśinagara at the age of eighty years. As represented in the standard iconography, the Buddha is shown reclining on his right side surrounded by mourning disciples. Lee 2010 is the first book-length study of parinirvāṇa images in China. Tracing the beginnings of widespread interest in China in this type of imagery to the second half of the 5th century, the author subsequently examines a series of case studies throughout China in order to analyze the adaptation of the motif in different settings and for different patrons, and, in turn, the varied afterlives of the representation of the death of the Buddha.

                                                                                          • Lee, Sonya S. Surviving Nirvana: Death of the Buddha in Chinese Visual Culture. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                            Among the case studies presented in this volume are two from Dunhuang, Mogao Caves 332 (698 CE) and 148 (second half of 8th century), both of which were family caves commissioned by the Li clan of Longxi. The author considers changing historical circumstances, spatial design, and viewer experience in her analysis of the caves, both of which prominently feature a monumental sculpture of the parinirvāṇa against the west wall.

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                                                                                            Wheel of Rebirth

                                                                                            The wheel of rebirth refers to a circle that is divided into sectors corresponding to the realms of transmigration in Buddhism and supported by the claws of Yama, the Buddhist judge of the dead. Found in portable paintings as well as relief sculptures and mural paintings, it was used to demonstrate the cyclical nature of the process of life and rebirth in Buddhism. Teiser 2006 analyzes examples of the wheel of rebirth in Xinjiang, Gansu, Tibet and Sichuan in order to examine the adaptation of the wheel in local contexts, differentiating between the two distinct configurations of the five or six paths of rebirth. Schmid 2008 addresses the relative paucity of wheel of rebirth images in medieval China noted by Teiser. Schmid argues that, in place of the cyclical representation of the paths of rebirth in the form of a wheel, they were most commonly represented as paths emanating from a center dominated by the bodhisattva Kṣitigarbha or the Tenth King of the Netherworld.

                                                                                            • Schmid, David Neil. “Revisioning the Buddhist Cosmos: Shifting Paths of Rebirth in Medieval Chinese Buddhism.” Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie 17 (2008): 293–325.

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                                                                                              The author analyzes portable paintings and manuscripts from Mogao Cave 17. In addition to his focus on the paths of rebirth, the author notes the social and religious significance of the bodhisattvas that are pictured guiding souls in the afterlife.

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                                                                                              • Teiser, Stephen F. Reinventing the Wheel: Paintings of Rebirth in Medieval Buddhist Temples. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                This volume traces the wheel of rebirth forward in time through Xinjiang, Gansu, Tibet, and Sichuan, after surveying the canonical sources and an early example of the wheel of rebirth in India.

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                                                                                                Esoteric Buddhist Art

                                                                                                Esoteric Buddhist iconographic motifs are an important aspect of mural and portable paintings from the Dunhuang region, particularly from the Tang Dynasty onward. In lieu of significant finds of esoteric Buddhist objects from the central plains of China, the Dunhuang objects are a valuable source for the study of esoteric Buddhism. The works are comprised of paintings of mandalas and esoteric Buddhist deities, altar and iconographic diagrams, and copies of Buddhist incantations, or dhāraṇīs. Su 1989a, Su 1989b, and Sørensen 1991–1992 represent efforts to catalogue mural and portable paintings on the basis of periodization and iconographic motifs. Sørensen 1991–1992 was composed as an elaboration on the work of the two Su articles. Peng 2003 contains color plates of esoteric Buddhist motifs from Mogao and Yulin mural paintings. Klimburg-Salter 1982 and Tanaka 2000 emphasize the role of Tibetan Buddhism in the esoteric Buddhist art of Dunhuang. Finally, Kuo 2000 and Luczanits 2008 are important contributions to the study of Dunhuang mandalas, with the former situating mandalas within a Chinese Buddhist context and the latter drawing comparisons to Tibetan Buddhist mandalas. Finally, Copp 2008 makes a valuable contribution toward discerning the historical and conceptual development of dhāraṇī amulet culture in China.

                                                                                                • Copp, Paul. “Altar, Amulet, Icon: Transformations in Dhāraṇī Amulet Culture, 740–980.” Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie 17 (2008): 239–264.

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                                                                                                  This article examines amulets of the Mahāpratisarā dhāraṇī, analyzing the close relationship between renderings of altars and painted or printed dhāraṇī amulet sheets. The author further argues for the shift from episodic to iconic images in certain printed dhāraṇī sheets.

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                                                                                                  • Klimburg-Salter, Deborah E., ed. The Silk Route and the Diamond Path: Esoteric Buddhist Art on the Trans-Himalayan Trade Routes. Los Angeles: UCLA Art Council, 1982.

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                                                                                                    In this exhibition catalogue, scholars of Himalayan and Chinese Buddhism and Buddhist art contributed essays and catalogue entries toward an examination of the transmission of esoteric Buddhism over the Silk Road.

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                                                                                                    • Kuo, Liying. “Dessins de maṇḍalà Dunhuang: Le Manuscrit Pelliot chinois 2012.” In La Sérinde, Terre d’échanges: Art, religion, commerce du Ier au Xesiècle. Edited by Jean-Pierre Drège, 49–78. Paris: La Documentation Française, 2000.

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                                                                                                      An expanded version of an article first published in 1998 on the same topic, the author analyzes the four mandalas on the recto of P. 2012, dating to the 9th–10th centuries, within the context of repentance rituals and the Vajra peak lineage.

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                                                                                                      • Luczanits, Christian. “On the Earliest Mandalas in a Buddhist Context.” In Mahayana Buddhism: History and Culture. Edited by Darrol Bryant and Susan Bryant, 111–136. New Delhi: Tibet House, 2008.

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                                                                                                        This work studies mandalas from the portable Dunhuang paintings (including P.2012) and compares them to the structure of later Tibetan mandalas.

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                                                                                                        • Peng Jinzhang (彭金章). Dunhuang shiku quanji(敦煌石窟全集). Vol. 10, Mijiao huajuan (密教畫卷). Hong Kong: Commercial Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                          This is a very useful illustrated catalogue consisting of color plates of mural paintings from the Mogao and Yulin sites, organized according to chronology, and supplemented by an index organized by iconographic motif.

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                                                                                                          • Sørensen, Henrik H. “Typology and Iconography in the Esoteric Buddhist Art of Dunhuang.” Silk Road Art and Archaeology 2 (1991–1992): 285–349.

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                                                                                                            This work provides a three-stage analysis of the development of esoteric Buddhism in China: “miscellaneous” esoteric Buddhism, the “mature” phase introduced by the three masters of the Kaiyuan era, and the vajrayāna or tantric phase which was first introduced in the 9th century, followed by an analysis of specific iconographic motifs.

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                                                                                                            • Su Bai (宿白). “Dunhuang Mogao ku mijiao yiji zhaji (shang)” (敦煌莫高窟密教遺跡札記[上]). Wenwu 文物 (1989a): 45–53.

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                                                                                                              First part of a two-part article outlining the historical development of esoteric Buddhism in China; here, Su analyzes the development of esoteric Buddhism in four periods: before the high Tang, during the high Tang, during the period of Tibetan occupation, and during the Zhang Yichao period.

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                                                                                                              • Su Bai (宿白). “Dunhuang Mogaoku mijiao yiji zhaji (xia)” (敦煌莫高窟密教遺跡札記[下]). Wenwu 文物 (1989b): 68–86.

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                                                                                                                Second part of a two-part article outlining the historical developments of esoteric Buddhism in China; here, the three periods of esoteric Buddhism under discussion are the period of rule under the Cao clan, the Xixia period, and the Mongol Yuan dynasty. This is accompanied by tables which enumerate the presence of esoteric iconographic motifs and their placement within the caves.

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                                                                                                                • Tanaka Kimiaki (田中公明). Tonkō: Mikkyō to bijutsu (敦煌:密教と美術). Kyoto: Hōzōkan, 2000.

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                                                                                                                  Each chapter of this work is devoted to the study of a specific painting or group of paintings. Emphasis is placed on portable paintings and Tibetan influences on esoteric Buddhist art at Dunhuang.

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                                                                                                                  Tibetan Occupation of Dunhuang

                                                                                                                  The Tibetan occupation of Dunhuang in 781–848 resulted in an intermingling among Buddhist clergy and lay believers and between Chinese and Tibetan communities. The period following the occupation from the mid-9th century to the late 10th, between the first and second transmissions of Buddhism in Tibet, has been subsequently treated by scholars as a “dark age” during which tantric Buddhism, devoid of imperial patronage and monastic control, entered a state of decline. Recent studies of the Tibetan manuscripts from Dunhuang, many dating from the “dark age,” have begun to shed light and greater clarity on the Buddhist practices of this period and on the continued Tibetan presence in Central Asia even after the collapse of the empire. Dalton and van Schaik 2006 catalogues the Tibetan tantric manuscripts from Dunhuang, some of which contain diagrams. Kapstein and van Schaik 2010 presents a selection of essays which examine the Tibetan tantric manuscripts in greater detail, focusing upon ritual and mortuary practice. Stoddard 2008, a reprinting of Karmay 1975, is an invaluable work analyzing a select group of portable paintings from Dunhuang. More recent and specialized studies include Sørensen 2000, which highlights the nature of interactions between Chinese and Tibetan clergy and lay believers, with implications for interpreting the impact of such interaction on Buddhist practice and Buddhist art. Finally, Kapstein 2009 identifies Yulin Cave 25 as the treaty temple referred to in Pelliot tibétain 16 and IOL Tib J 751, an important connection between Tibetan Dunhuang manuscripts and art historical evidence.

                                                                                                                  • Dalton, Jacob, and Sam van Schaik. Tibetan Tantric Manuscripts from Dunhuang: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Stein Collection at the British Library. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2006.

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                                                                                                                    This is an extremely useful catalogue of the Tibetan tantric manuscripts from Dunhuang; great care was taken to link different manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts to one another in order to shed light on the circulation of specific tantric texts.

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                                                                                                                    • Kapstein, Matthew T. “The Treaty Temple of the Turquoise Grove.” In Buddhism between Tibet and China. Edited by Matthew T. Kapstein, 21–72. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2009.

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                                                                                                                      An expanded version of an article published in 2004, this work identifies Yulin Cave 25 as the treaty temple referred to in Pelliot tibétain 16 and IOL Tib J 751, which was constructed in order to commemorate a peace treaty negotiated among the Chinese, Tibetans, and Uighurs in the early 820s.

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                                                                                                                      • Kapstein, Matthew T., and Sam van Schaik, eds. Esoteric Buddhism at Dunhuang: Rites and Teachings for This Life and Beyond. Leiden: Brill, 2010.

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                                                                                                                        Although this edited volume does not focus specifically on art or architecture, the essays primarily take Tibetan manuscripts from Dunhuang as their primary source. One essay by Katherine R. Tsiang analyzes Buddhist printed images, culminating in a discussion of several examples of the Mahāpratisarā dhāraṇī containing Chinese and/or Sanskrit text.

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                                                                                                                        • Karmay, Heather. Early Sino-Tibetan Art. Warminster, UK: Aris & Phillips, 1975.

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                                                                                                                          This work studies portable paintings from Dunhuang as representing the earliest dated works of Tibetan art, analyzing specific paintings from iconographic, stylistic, and epigraphic perspectives. This groundbreaking work explores the artistic exchange that flourished between the Tibetans and the Chinese.

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                                                                                                                          • Sørensen, Henrik H. “Perspectives on Buddhism in Dunhuang during the Tang and Five Dynasties Period.” In The Silk Roads: Highways of Culture and Commerce. Edited by Vadime Elisseeff, 27–48. New York and Oxford: Berghahn, 2000.

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                                                                                                                            This article discusses the coexistence during and following the period of Tibetan occupation in Dunhuang of Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist clergy as well as Chinese and Tibetan lay believers, clarifying the interactions between the two communities. The article raises several examples of collaborative Buddhist donorship.

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                                                                                                                            • Stoddard, Heather. Early Sino-Tibetan Art. 2d ed. Bangkok: Orchid, 2008.

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                                                                                                                              Long out of print, this important book has been reprinted with a new foreword by the author and many new illustrations.

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                                                                                                                              Xixia

                                                                                                                              The Xixia (Western Xia, 1038–1227) state was ruled by the Tanguts, people of Tibetan origin who gained considerable control over the Hexi corridor by the 11th century. The fortress city of Kara Khoto in Ningxia was one of the centers of the Xixia state and was discovered by a Russian expedition led by Captain Pyotr Kozlov in 1908; the objects recovered are now in the collection of the Hermitage Museum. Evidence of Xixia influence can be seen in the mural paintings of Dunhuang cave shrines, particularly at the Yulin site, which contains Tibetan-style esoteric Buddhist paintings. The Xixia were finally conquered by the Mongols in the 13th century. Dunnell 1996 analyzes the role of Buddhism within the context of Xixia imperial history, and analyzes a number of textual sources, including an important stele inscription from the Dayun (Huguo) Temple in modern-day Wuwei, Gansu Province. Dunnell 2001 studies donor images inserted into thangkas and mural paintings, in particular royal donor portraits of the emperor Renzong (r. 1139–1193). Renzong was also the likely donor of Yulin Cave 3, the focus of Linrothe 1996. Linrothe 1998 discusses the personification of the deity Ushnīshavijayā and the Tangut stūpa cult. Finally, Piotrovsky 1993 is an exhibition catalogue focusing on the Tangut Buddhist artifacts recovered from Khara Khoto, which lay buried in the Gobi Desert until their discovery in 1908.

                                                                                                                              • Dunnell, Ruth. “Portraiture and Patronage in Tangut Buddhism, 12th–13th centuries.” In Embodying Wisdom: Art, Text and Interpretation in the History of Esoteric Buddhism. Edited by Rob Linrothe and Henrik H. Sørensen, 101–138. Copenhagen: Seminar for Buddhist Studies, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                The author analyzes the insertion of royal, monastic, and lay donors into Xixia Buddhist paintings, focusing on the increasing piety of the Buddhist patronage of the Xixia emperor Renzong.

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                                                                                                                                • Dunnell, Ruth W. The Great State of White and High: Buddhism and State Formation in Eleventh-Century Xia. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                  This masterful study treats Buddhism as a tool of imperial legitimation during the Xixia. Buddhism was also attractive to the Xixia rulers for its apotropaic properties. The second half of the book includes annotated translations of the Tangut and Chinese stele inscriptions dating to 1094 from the Dayun (Huguo) Temple.

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                                                                                                                                  • Linrothe, Rob. “Xia Renzong and the Patronage of Tangut Buddhist Art: The Stūpa and Ushnīshavijayā Cult.” Journal of Sung-Yuan Studies 28 (1998): 91–121.

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                                                                                                                                    This article elaborates on the patronage of Renzong and the connections between the deity Ushnīshavijayā and the Tangut stūpa cult. The author further suggests the connections between Renzong and the establishment of the Qingtongxia 108 stūpas in Ningxia.

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                                                                                                                                    • Linrothe, Robert N. “Ushnīshavijayā and the Tangut Cult of the Stūpa at Yü-lin Cave 3.” National Palace Museum Bulletin 31.4–5 (1996): 1–24.

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                                                                                                                                      A close study of Yulin Cave 3, this article focuses on the deity Ushnīshavijayā, who is the personification of a dhāraṇī, or Buddhist incantation. Images of Ushnīshavijayā were rare in China before the Yuan Dynasty but appeared frequently in Xixia Buddhist art.

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                                                                                                                                      • Piotrovsky, Mikhail, ed. Lost Empire of the Silk Road: Buddhist Art from Khara Khoto (X–XIIIth century). Milan: Electa and Thyssen-Bornemisza Foundation, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                        This work is the catalogue for an exhibition of Tangut Buddhist artifacts recovered from Khara Khoto during the 1908 Russian expedition and now in the collection of the Hermitage. The objects include silk paintings, manuscripts, sculptures, and a wooden stūpa.

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                                                                                                                                        Mogao Cave 61

                                                                                                                                        Mogao Cave 61 is one of the best-known Mogao cave shrines. This 10th-century cave is noted for a painting of Mt. Wutai (located in Shanxi Province), which covers the entire rear (west) wall of the cave. Mt. Wutai, considered the earthly abode of the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī, was itself an important Buddhist pilgrimage site. Marchand 1976 analyzes the painting in the context of Chinese cartography and compares sites and natural formations in the painting to travel narratives. Wong 1993 responds to previous Chinese and Japanese-language scholarship, as well as to Marchand’s article, which focuses on the archaeological, historical, and geographical information provided by the mural painting. Instead, she examines the mural painting in light of its religious functions, political symbolism, and patronage.

                                                                                                                                        • Marchand, Ernesta. “The Panorama of Wu-t’ai Shan as an Example of Tenth Century Cartography.” Oriental Art 22 (1976): 158–173.

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                                                                                                                                          This work considers the painting in the context of Mt. Wutai’s status as a pilgrimage site, comparing the painting to Ennin’s 9th-century pilgrimage account and viewing it as a forerunner to later panoramic maps.

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                                                                                                                                          • Wong, Dorothy C. “A Reassessment of the Representation of Mt. Wutai from Dunhuang Cave 61.” Archives of Asian Art 46 (1993): 27–52.

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                                                                                                                                            The author argues that the religious function of the painting is religious and iconic, rather than acting as a map of the pilgrimage route. The political context for the interest in Mañjuśrī and Mt. Wutai is explored.

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                                                                                                                                            Patronage and Social History

                                                                                                                                            The works in this section focus on the patronage and use of Silk Road Buddhist cave shrines, taking as their primary consideration the manner in which the prerogatives of donors were reflected in iconographic or stylistic motifs. Abe 1990 takes one Mogao cave shrine dating to the 5th century as a case study for arguing its functions for distinct populations of Buddhist devotees. Ning 2004 focuses on a 7th-century Mogao cave shrine—the earliest identifiable family cave, or cave shrine donated by a single clan, at the site—and the political implications of later renovations, considering broader subjects such as the relationship between artists, lay patrons, and Buddhist clerics. He also posits that the cave was used for New Year celebrations and healing rituals. Kyan 2010 focuses on a 9th-century Mogao family cave in order to demonstrate the visual and spatial cues that enable the cave to integrate family history with religious merit. Finally, Russell-Smith 2005 focuses not on a single cave, but rather on a specific ethnic group, the Uighurs, in an attempt to discern their preferences as Buddhist art patrons.

                                                                                                                                            • Abe, Stanley K. “Art and Practice in a Fifth-Century Chinese Buddhist Cave Temple.” Ars Orientalis 20 (1990): 1–31.

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                                                                                                                                              As the most completely preserved 5th-century Mogao cave, Cave 254 provides an ideal focus for this case study of how various functions of a cave—visualization, recitation of the Buddha’s name, circumambulation, and oral recitation—corresponded to its likely use by both laypeople and clergy.

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                                                                                                                                              • Kyan, Winston. “Family Space: Buddhist Materiality and Ancestral Fashioning in Mogao Cave 231.” Art Bulletin 92.1–2 (2010): 61–82.

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                                                                                                                                                This article provides a synthetic examination of varied references to family patronage, including ancestor portraits, commemorative inscriptions, and depictions of domestic furniture that are found in Mogao Cave 231 (c. 839 CE). This approach, in turn, demonstrates how a cave shrine can function as a space for both Buddhist devotion and ancestral commemoration for its patrons.

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                                                                                                                                                • Ning, Qiang. Art, Religion and Politics in Medieval China: The Dunhuang Cave of the Zhai Family. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                  This is a close reading of the visual imagery of Mogao Cave 220, dated 642 CE. Ning considers possible religious, political and personal motivations behind the iconographical motifs chosen by the family members for their cave shrine. He then proceeds to discuss the renovations to the cave and their political significance.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Russell-Smith, Lilla. Uygur Patronage in Dunhuang: Regional Art Centres on the Northern Silk Road in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                    This book focuses on the impact of Uighur patronage at the Mogao caves, and attempts to define Uighur characteristics and regional influences, particularly in the context of political relations between Uighurs and other ethnic groups during this period.

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                                                                                                                                                    Portable Paintings and Textiles

                                                                                                                                                    The following sources treat portable paintings and textiles primarily from Dunhuang, but also from Turfan. The portable paintings are comprised of monochrome as well as polychrome works that very likely served different functions based on differences in materials and format. The textiles are an important source for the historical study of silk textiles. Of particular interest is the intersection of the motifs and functions of these portable materials and the mural paintings of the cave shrines. Soper 1965 is an early yet still important article dealing with one portable painting of auspicious images in the Stein Collection. Vandier-Nicolas 1974–1976 treats a select group of portable paintings in the Musée Guimet. The articles in Drège 1999 focus solely on works on paper. Following on this, important treatments of monochrome drawings and diagrams from Dunhuang are Rao 1978 and Fraser 2004. Finally, textiles from Dunhuang are the focus of Zhao 2007 and textiles from Turfan are catalogued in Bhattacharya-Haesner 2003.

                                                                                                                                                    • Bhattacharya-Haesner, Chhaya. Central Asian Temple Banners in the Turfan Collection of the Museum für Indische Kunst, Berlin: Painted Textiles from the Northern Silk Route. Berlin: Reimer, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                      This work is a catalogue of silk, ramie, and cotton banner paintings from Turfan now in the collection of the Museum für Indische Kunst, Berlin.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Drège, Jean-Pierre. Images de Dunhuang: dessins et peintures sur papier des fonds Pelliot et Stein. Paris: École Française d’Extrême-Orient, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                        The articles in this volume, by Michel Soymié, Sarah E. Fraser, Jean-Pierre Drège, Stephen E. Teiser, and Danielle Eliasberg, treat various aspects of portable Buddhist paintings and diagrams from the Stein and Pelliot collections.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Fraser, Sarah E. Performing the Visual: The Practice of Buddhist Wall Painting in China and Central Asia, 618–960. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                          This work studies monochrome drawings from Dunhuang and theorizes their use as artists’ sketches for mural paintings. Focusing on the 9th–10th centuries, Fraser argues that professionalization of the painting academy as well as local demand for paintings resulted in the use of sketches for the replication of motifs and consistency of compositions.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Rao Zongyi (饒宗頤). Peintures Monochromes de Dunhuang. 3 vols. Translated by Pierre Ryckmans. Paris: École Française d’Extrême-Orient, 1978.

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                                                                                                                                                            This work is the first significant attempt to study the monochrome drawings and diagrams from Dunhuang. The text is in Chinese and French, with illustrations and captions for selected works.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Soper, Alexander. “Representations of Famous Images at Tun-huang.” Artibus Asiae 27.4 (1965): 349–364.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/3249015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              This work focuses on a painting divided between the Stein Collections in London and New Delhi, the subject matter of which is auspicious images of Buddhist icons.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Vandier-Nicolas, Nicole. Bannières et peintures de Touen-Houang conservées au Musée Guimet. 2 vols. Paris: l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 1974–1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                This work provides illustrations and captions for portable Dunhuang paintings in the Musée Guimet.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Zhao Feng, ed. Textiles from Dunhuang in UK Collections. Shanghai: Donghu University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                  This work is an important contribution to an understudied aspect of Dunhuang art, that of textiles. Essays cover the technical aspects of textiles as well as their use at Dunhuang. Among the textiles under discussion are Buddhist banners and sutra covers and wrappers.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Xinjiang

                                                                                                                                                                  The following sources focus primarily on Buddhist mural paintings and architecture at sites of the northern Silk Road from Xinjiang, a region of mixed Indo-European, Chinese, Sogdian, and Uighur population. Some comparisons may be drawn between the iconographic and stylistic motifs of the Xinjiang paintings and those seen in the Buddhist art of South Asia and Dunhuang, indicating the influence transmitted over the Silk Road. However, the Xinjiang paintings additionally merit scholarly attention for their own distinctive features. Reza 2002 is useful for a general introduction to Kizil and Kumtura, and Yaldiz 1987 provides a more thorough overview of rock-cut sites in Xinjiang. Howard 1991 reevaluates the previous arguments and existing evidence for the chronology of the Kizil mural paintings. Karetzky 2000 traces models for the format of narrative paintings to early Indian stone reliefs, and Lesbre 2001 focuses on the most characteristic feature of Kizil mural paintings. Ghose 2008 employs a variety of approaches to the study of Kizil, with an emphasis on Buddhist iconographic motifs and their textual sources.

                                                                                                                                                                  • Ghose, Rajeshwari, ed. Kizil on the Silk Road: Crossroads of Commerce and Meeting of Minds. Mumbai: Marg Publications on behalf of National Centre for the Performing Arts, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                    This edited volume consists of an introduction and nine essays authored by an international group of scholars that address topics ranging from chronology, Buddhist transmission, and the iconographic motifs of mural paintings at Kizil.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Howard, Angela. “Support of a New Chronology for the Kizil Mural Paintings.” Archives of Asian Art 44 (1991): 68–83.

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                                                                                                                                                                      The author surveys the existing scholarship in German, English, and Chinese regarding the chronology for the Kizil mural paintings, ultimately supporting the Chinese chronology of 300–650 CE (rather than the traditional 500–650 CE), which rests not only on painting style but also on architecture.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Karetzky, Patricia E. “Sarvastivadin Buddhists and Scenes of the Life of the Buddha from Qizil (Xinjiang).” Oriental Art 46.1 (2000): 48–58.

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                                                                                                                                                                        The author explores connections between the format of painting in Qizil with stone reliefs of Gandhāra, Amarāvatiī, and Nāgārjunakoņḍā.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Lesbre, Emanuelle. “An Attempt to Identify and Classify Scenes with a Central Buddha Depicted on Ceilings of the Kyzil Caves (Former Kingdom of Kutcha, Central Asia).” Artibus Asiae 61.2 (2001): 305–352.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/3249912Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          This article focuses on one of the most characteristic features of the Kizil caves, the ceiling paintings with a central Buddha that are contained within lozenge-shaped forms.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Reza. Painted Buddhas of Xinjiang: Hidden Treasures from the Silk Road. London: British Museum, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                            This work provides a general introduction to the Kizil and Kumtura cave shrines, with color plates highlighting individual motifs. Introductory essays discuss the architecture of the caves, the style of mural painting, and the history of Kucha.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Yaldiz, Marianne. Archäologie und Kunstgeschichte Chinesisch-Zentralasiens (Xinjiang). Leiden, The Netherlands, and New York: Brill, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                              This work surveys rock-cut sites in Kucha, Tumshuk, Sorchuk, and Turfan. It includes site plans and color and black-and-white plates.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Bāmiyān

                                                                                                                                                                              The Buddhist sites of the Hindu Kush were noted by the monk pilgrims Xuanzang in 632 CE CE and Hyecho in 727, but despite their known presence, scant evidence had plagued the study of the site. Higuchi 1983–1984 is an extensive archaeological report of the site. Klimburg-Salter 1989 examined internal and external evidence in order to establish a 7th- to 9th-century chronology.

                                                                                                                                                                              • Higuchi, Takayusu (樋口隆康編). Bāmiyān: Afuganisutan ni okeru Bukkyō sekkutsu jiin no bijutsu kōkogakuteki chōsa, 1970–1978 nen (バーミヤーン: アフガニスタンにおける仏教石窟寺院の美術考古学的調查, 1970–1978年). 4 vols. Kyoto: Dōhōsha, 1983–1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                                This work is the result of a Kyoto University archaeological mission to the site. The four volumes contain color plates of the murals, details of the architecture and exterior views, and articles on chronology, mural paintings, and Buddhism. Volume 4 provides an English-language descriptive catalogue and plans of the caves.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Klimburg-Salter, Deborah E. The Kingdom of Bāmiyān: Buddhist Art and Culture of the Hindu Kush. Naples, Italy: Istituto Universitario Orientale, Dipartimento di Studi Asiatici, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  This work links the art historical evidence of the Hindu Kush to contemporary literary and material evidence, establishing a chronology for Buddhist art and a comparative stylistic analysis, exploring specific iconographical themes, and positing the functions of the Bāmiyān site. A descriptive catalogue of the site is provided.

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